Wednesday, February 10, 2010
When Sir Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, began to break up, Shackleton drew a sketch of how his ship was being pushed in several unfortunate directions (see sketch above)(my hand copy). The sketch’s significance was that Shackleton thought the ship’s destruction was imminent.
Shackleton and his crew were trapped in the ice the whole Arctic winter long (March to October 1914-15) and, as the ice pack moved, and at great distances, about 900 miles across the Weddell sea, it took his ship and crew with it for a long ride.
The ship was immobile in an ice pack the whole time and the circumference of their movement on foot were the interlocking ice floes.
Several times, they saw breaks coming close to their ship. They tried to escape their icy prison by digging toward these breaks and they thought they would escape. But there was always some insurmountable obstacle.
The courage and heroism that is Shackleton is his persistence and imagination and ability to inspire others to believe their circumstance was not hopeless.
As for the ship, however, finally he had to write that “the [ice] pack within our range of vision was being subjected to enormous compression, such as might be caused by cyclonic winds, opposing ocean currents, or constriction in a channel of some description.”
Shackleton went on to describe “huge blocks of ice, weighing many tons, were lifted into the air and tossed aside as other masses rose beneath them.”
Today we have so many who wrongly think they can master nature or ignore the consequences of compromising the natural order.
At one of his darkest moments, when Shackleton anticipated he would lose his ship, and put his crew at risk, and that he had find a way to lead them to safety, he must have been anxious – he wrote, “We were helpless intruders in a strange world, our lives dependent upon the play of grim elementary forces that made a mock of our puny efforts.”